Chuwit Kamolvisit is staring down the nose of a two year prison sentence for the part he played in the 2003 destruction of the Sukhumvit Square development.
The once notorious massage parlour owner then turned politician has been imprisoned by the Supreme Court for crimes including trespass, criminal damage and false imprisonment.
The crimes relate to the destruction of the notorious patch of seedy beer bars that once made up so-called Sukhumvit Square, as written about recently by James Newman in Vanishing Red.
Early morning on 25 January 2003 saw a host of workers, commissioned by Chuwit, accompanied by bulldozers, bring down the stretch of bars without notice, leaving so many of the area’s proprietors bereft of their livelihoods.
Chuwit later erected a private park on the spot, Chuwit Garden, which bears a commemorative plaque to Jesus on its main gate; an unusual move in a country which boasts a highly Buddhist religious makeup.
He was arrested alongside 129 other men for the crimes although later acquitted by the Criminal Court. The Appeals Court, however, sentenced Chuwit and 65 others to five years in jail.
This sentence was reduced yesterday to two years on appeal as the judge recognised the compensation paid by Chuwit to the former owners of the destroyed bars and the fact that he erected a much-treasured park on the land.
Chuwit is infamous in Bangkok for doing a total career about-turn; switching from being the proprietor of various large Bangkok massage parlours to becoming an MP and the leader of the Rak Prathet Thai Party.
In a 2014 interview with the Southeast Asia Globe, he said,
“When I first started out I wanted to be like Hugh Hefner: be surrounded by girls and make money. They called me the massage tycoon of Thailand. But after a while I wanted something cleaner, so I jumped into politics. I made a big mistake. Politics is far dirtier than the massage parlour business.”
Before the ruling was made yesterday, Chuwit spoke with reporters at the Straits Times saying that “I want to be a good example for politicians, and to the people, that I am not a runaway who wants to sip wine on a yacht.”
43 others were sentenced to two years in jail alongside him.
Featured image is of Chuvit Kamolsvisit in 2010 and is by jayarc